Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Deeper in debt

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The NDP has shown even when it cuts spending it can blow the budget, and it cannot blame flood costs for this. The year-end results for 2012-13 show the government went $186 million over its original core deficit projection of $504 million because of its spending problem. This, after it had trimmed $128 million in expenditures, according to financial officials.

Stick with the math for a minute. The picture that comes into focus shows its efforts to cut spending was overwhelmed by a $314-million over-expenditure. That's big, even for this spend-thrift administration, the one that projected it would get out of deficit by March 2015 but has adjusted the balanced-budget date to 2017.

And what about flood costs? Last year, the government spent an additional $86 million on flood costs, cleaning up from the record 2011 Assiniboine River inundation. But that had no effect on its deficit, because it also received $87 million more than expected from the federal government to cover its share of the costs.

Finance Minister Stan Struthers, of course, found boon amid gloom when releasing the numbers Monday. He noted a revised forecast, months back, put the 2012-13 summary deficit at $3 million higher than it has turned out. It takes a special kind of accounting to burnish that sliver of a silver lining.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2013 A10

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